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New market pops up in Merrick

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While many Merrick residents are lamenting the loss of the community’s annual Fall Festival, the Chamber of Commerce has organized another event to take its place. Last Sunday, the organization hosted roughly 30 vendors in the Merrick Long Island Rail Road parking lot for the opening day of its new weekly pop-up market.

In August, the Herald reported that Fall Festival, which typically attracts thousands of people, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But President Femy Aziz hinted that the chamber was securing permits to host a weekly flea market in the same spot as the festival’s usual carnival.

The inaugural pop-up, on Oct. 4, welcomed residents from across the area to shop safely from local business owners offering arts and crafts, gifts, antiques, collectibles and more. Visitors and vendors alike were required to wear masks, and booths were separated by empty parking spaces.

Alan Finchley owns Nassau County Fairs, the largest producer of art, craft, gift and street fairs and flea markets on Long Island. He is also a longtime chamber member. For the past 15 years, he has worked with the organization to bring vendors to its annual festivals. And although Covid-19 restrictions have forced his company to cancel more than 25 events this year, he said that Merrick’s pop-up market presented an opportunity to shoppers and merchants to return to doing what they love, despite the pandemic.

“Vendors . . . have not been able to work for the entire calendar year, and shoppers have been relegated to online shopping,” Finchley said. “Here, they have an opportunity in a relatively safe and secure environment . . . to go out, get some fresh air and find products and services that are not easy to find.”

Chamber Vice President Ira Reiter and his wife, Hillary, were two of the many vendors sharing their wares at last Sunday’s pop-up market. Their business, The Barking Biscuit, which sells homemade dog treats, was placed six feet apart from Last Hope Animal Rescue, a Wantagh-based nonprofit.

Reiter said the weekly market would allow business owners to recoup revenue that was lost during Covid-related shutdowns earlier this year. “Everyone’s anxious to get out and start doing things, and as a chamber . . . this is one way that we can promote some of our small businesses,” he said. “A lot of our vendors that are here are all local — most of them actually do our festivals — and we look forward to this growing.”

Chamber members can choose any two days to reserve a spot at the market with no rent obligation, Aziz said. They will also be offered a discounted fee if they wish to continue to attend. The fee for non-members is $40.

Merrick’s pop-up market will be held every Sunday through Christmas, weather permitting, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Sunrise Highway and Merrick Avenue. Admission and parking are free. To register your business, call (516) 442-6000 or email Finchley at alan@nassaucountyfair.com.